Buried under the truth

How can one live in a world where she must keep her secrets hidden out of the fear that if she speaks her truth she will not be believed? Watch this question unravel itself through Amber Smith’s New York Times Bestseller, The Way I Used to Be.

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This is a great read to bring awareness to sexual assault victims and give insight into the struggles of PTSD.

Makayla Bech, Staff Writer

What is one to do when the truth is the one thing that could set them free, but the truth is also the same thing that could mean the end? How can one defer the advantages of releasing what one has been holding onto for so long with the knowledge that speaking the truth has so many risks?

These are the questions that Eden McCrorey explores throughout Amber Smith’s novel The Way I Used to Be. At the mere age of 13 ‘Edy’ becomes a rape victim with the assaulter being no other than her older brother’s best friend, Kevin Armstrong. The struggles of keeping this secret haunt Eden all throughout high school and readers follow her along her journey of discovering herself along with witnessing firsthand the struggles that she endures while suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Overwhelming emotions and roadblocks are a constant in Eden’s life. This “thing” that happened to her is causing for her relationships with her best friend, parents, and brother to crumble. Romantic relationships are out of the picture as well as we see Eden struggle to tell the truth and find comfort in her lies, only causing the effect of forming relationships based off lies.

To be so consumed with denial, anxiety, depression, and anger can only lead to one thing and that is chaos. For three years all that Eden experiences is constant confusion. She has no idea what she wants in life, and no hope for the future. She does not see a future for her life; all that she wants is an escape from the demon that she has come to know in her own mind. She discovers ways to numb the pain in alcohol abuse and random hookups at college parties. She learns to reinvent herself and completely throws away the version of herself that Kevin knew he could abuse. “Because whatever he thinks I am, I’m not. And whatever he thinks my body is, it isn’t, my body is a torture chamber. My body is a crime scene.” This language truly represents what Eden depicts herself to be. She does not see herself as the victim of the abuse, but rather as the perpetrator.

Someone can run away from the truth for as long as they want, but eventually the pot that has been boiling for so long is going to spill over. While reading this novel it almost feels as though the readers along with the main character are choking on the truth the entire time. If only they knew then they would understand. If only we could say this one thing our actions would be justified. If only we could say this one thing, then we can be saved. However, we are going to have to continue to hold on to the words that will free us for a little bit longer because he still has that power over us.

Amber Smith created a novel with such responsive language that the reader undeniably feels the evoking acrimony that Eden feels. The hurt that she feels, and the pity she feels for herself. The numbness that she experiences and the desire she has to hurt other people so that they can feel an itch of what her life is. The audience discovers what the mindset is of an abuse victim and gets to endure the pain and constant confusion that they are feeling. Everyone’s story is different and justified. It is an ongoing issue that our world has known for far too long, and unfortunately an issue that many women face all the time. In fact, 40% of women in the United States have reported sexual assault, and that is just of the ones that have come forward. There are countless numbers of young woman alike to Eden that keep this tragedy that happened to them locked in and never speak up about it. It is our job as a society to create an environment where women will not fear of speaking their truth and our job to support and protect them, allowing them to get the justice and closure that they deserve and maybe one day we will live in a world where women do not have to live in fear. As Eden once put it, “All these maybes swimming around in my head make me think that ‘maybe’ could just be another word for hope.”